for this game

Louisville overcomes late charge by Harangody, Notre Dame

Feb 29, 2008 - 3:45 AM LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Despite some fireworks by Luke Harangody, David Padgett and Louisville continued their charge toward a potential Big East Conference regular-season title.

Padgett scored a season-high 26 points as 18th-ranked Louisville used a big first half to overcome a monster effort by Harangody for a 90-85 victory over No. 17 Notre Dame on Thursday.

Earl Clark and Terrence Williams chipped in 14 points apiece for the Cardinals, who built an 18-point lead in the first half and nearly needed all of it to hold off a late charge by Harangody and the Fighting Irish.

Despite a career-high 40 points from the Notre Dame sophomore forward, Louisville posted its eighth straight win.

"He is a warrior. I don't know what else you can say about the kid," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said of Harangody. "He brings it every night. I am very proud of the confidence he plays like that in this atmosphere. You know, that is pretty good."

Behind the winning streak, the Cardinals (23-6, 13-3 Big East) once again pulled even with Georgetown (13-3) atop the league standings. They will visit the Hoyas in their regular-season finale on March 8.

"I think we are a very good basketball team," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I don't think that we are any better than Connecticut, Georgetown, Notre Dame or anybody. We are just a hungry basketball team trying to get better each night out.

"We wanted to win eight out of 10 and we secured it with two to go. So now we have two games to try to win a championship."

Louisville's best finish since joining the Big East in 2005-06 was a tie for second last season.

Holding a 42-27 advantage at the break after shooting 53 percent (17-of-32), the Cardinals prevented the Fighting Irish from getting within single digits until the closing minutes.

Coming off a school-record nine 3-pointers in a 94-87 win over Syracuse on Saturday, Kyle McAlarney connected on his first field goal of the game - a 3-pointer - to slice Notre Dame's deficit to 76-69 with three minutes to play.

The Irish, who entered the matchup with eight wins in nine games, continued to close thanks to an unlikely threat from outside, as Harangody knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season to make it 78-72 with 1:32 remaining.

Harangody, who finished 16-of-28 from the field with 12 rebounds, ended up making his first three attempts from the arc, cutting the deficit to 86-81 with 23 seconds left.

"You have to take your hat off to Harangody because he hadn't made a three all year," Pitino said. "They all looked like they were dead middle. You have to give him a lot of credit, he had a special night."

However, Clark and Edgar Sosa both made a pair of free throws down the stretch and Harangody missed a shot from the arc with six seconds to play as Louisville held on.

Padgett finished 10-of-14 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists.

"He does so much for our basketball team," Pitino said of Padgett. "He is a lot different than Harangody. Harangody is a lot like (North Carolina's) Tyler Hansbrough. David is your prototype center. David is playing great basketball right now."

The Cardinals finished with five players in double figures in points as they shot 53 percent (31-of-58) from the field.

That sizzling shooting was on display in the first half as Louisville took charge of the game.

The Cardinals scored 14 of the game's first 18 points en route to building up a 42-24 advantage with 3:12 left before halftime.

Louisville connected on five of its first 3-pointers, taking a 32-16 lead on Jerry Smith's second of the half with 11:13 remaining.

Overall, the Cardinals went 7-of-12 from the arc in the opening 20 minutes.

"We were trying to change defenses a little bit and we screwed up some things," Brey said. "Some of it was us screwing up and they got some really clean looks and that hurts you. We would have loved to change defenses on them tonight. Play more zone."

While Louisville had six players between five and eight points in the first half, Notre Dame had just two that managed more than four points, led by Harangody's 14.

Harangody shot 7-of-14 from the field in the first half while the rest of his teammates combined to go just 5-of-22.

Ryan Ayers chipped in 17 points for Notre Dame (21-6, 11-4), which fell into a tie with Connecticut (11-4) for third place.

While Harangody had a huge effort, McAlarney failed to follow up on his 30-point effort against Syracuse, ending up with seven points on 3-of-14 shooting.

The junior guard also went 1-of-8 on 3-pointers despite leading the conference in shooting from the arc at 46 percent.

"We were really focusing on McAlarney, making sure he had a bad night," Pitino said.

"They did a great job taking him away even when they were zone," Brey said. "It was almost box and one. And whoever was in his area was physically up into him. A lot of it was them taking him away."